On Thursday, June 6 Kent School celebrated the graduation of its 50th class of Eighth Grade students and the culmination of a year-long 50th Anniversary celebration. Thirteen members of the Class of 2019 were recognized for their achievements and contributions to the Kent School community during their years. Nancy Mugele, Head of School, said in her remarks, “I BELIEVE it has been an incredible and JOYful year, and while I will be very sad to see these 8th Graders leave our campus today, I am excited to IMAGINE the amazing things they will do with the wings we have given them, as they soar like the Osprey they are, in their years beyond Kent School.” She continued, “You have most definitely left your mark here. The installation of the Osprey Sculpture to commemorate the School’s 50th Anniversary will be a permanent reminder of the amazing Class of 2019! Ospreys are focused, strong and powerful, just like Kent School students, and we are so grateful to the Class of 2019, and your parents, for this remarkable gift. Every time I drive onto campus, or am cheering on a team on our front field, I will remember fondly the wonderful Class of 2019.”
A new tradition was established at the 2019 Graduation. The Graduation Address will be delivered annually by an alumnus or alumna. This year, Bobby Berna ’86 addressed the graduates and their guests. Bobby joined Kent School in the Third Grade and his teachers remember him as “a very bright and dedicated student, of excellent character even at eight years of age.” After graduating from Kent School, Bobby attended Episcopal High School in Virginia and Dickinson College. Bobby obtained dual MBA degrees from Columbia University and University of California, Berkeley. Since graduating, Bobby has embraced his entrepreneurial spirit and launched two companies that both focus on children – Appleseeds and Songs for Seeds.
Bobby addressed the graduates saying, “In 1986 I was sitting right where you are today, at Graduation. I’ve had a fair number of school experiences over the years, but I really believe that the years I spent at Kent School were some of the most important. Coming back to campus reminds me of what a special place this is. Not only is it such a beautiful campus and setting, but I think you will find as you go through life that the experiences, memories and relationships that you made are some that will stay with you forever.” He continued, “It may not always feel like the safest way to go but I think it’s important in school, in your career, and in life in general to be willing to get out of your comfort zone, try something new, take a chance when you see an opportunity. The education and skill set that you’ve gained at Kent School will serve you well and will be an amazing launching point for your years in high school and beyond – regardless of what you decide to do in the future. You know how to problem solve, how to stay organized, how to manage your time, how to work with a team and how to generally be a kind and caring person. So, if you’re a bit nervous about the high school years and life after that, just know that you are more than well prepared. I really do believe that the time I spent at Kent School set me up well for everything I have done.”
Recognition and Awards
The 2019 Graduation ceremony provided the opportunity to recognize two members of the faculty who are retiring this year, Karen Bennett and Michelle Duke. Karen leaves her role as Second Grade teacher after 24 years. Michelle Duke, Assistant Head of School for Academics, has decided to take an early retirement so she can focus on her precious grandchildren, who now number five.
Chris McClary ‘91, President of the Board of Trustees, presented the Navigator Award. This award is presented to an individual who has made a special contribution of time, talent, or treasure to Kent School over a sustained period of time, made a difference in the educational experience of Kent School students, and supports the School’s mission to help each student reach their full potential. This year the Navigator Award was presented to long-time Trustee and friend of the School, Nancy Dick. When describing Ms. Dick’s involvement with Kent School, McClary said, “This year’s recipient began her trips down Wilkins Lane before we were even a school as her godparents lived in the farm house that is now the Joan C. Merriken Administrative Building. When she became an adult, she decided to get involved with the School herself, initially by volunteering and in 1982 she was asked to join the Board of Trustees. She served on the Board from 1982 -1988, remained a loyal supporter and was asked to join the Board of Trustees again in 2000. Nancy still serves today. Not only is she the longest serving member of the Board of Trustees but she is also the longest serving member of the Board’s Executive Committee. She was elected to the position of Board Secretary in 2006 and served through this year. The influence she has had on Kent School goes beyond what anyone could imagine. She is not an alum, or a past parent but more importantly, she is a “Friend of the School” as she often says. Well, I will say she should start saying “Best Friend.” She truly is an unsung hero of Kent School. It is timely that she is the one receiving the award this year as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary.
Several annual awards were presented to students at the Graduation ceremony. Each year, the Brian B. Kane, Jr. Scholarship Award is presented to a Seventh Grade student who maintains a determined effort to produce quality work. The person has an attitude that is helpful, cooperative and responsible. This year, Allie Butler embodies these high standards. The Americanism Award is presented by the Frank M. Jarmon American Legion Rock Hall Post 228 and emphasizes the qualities of courage, honor, leadership, patriotism, scholarship and service. The Americanism Award was presented to Noah Macielag. Tait Tavolacci was the recipient of the Joan C. Merriken Award for Excellence in Literature. Tait earned this award because of her demonstration of a love of reading, an appreciation of and sensitivity to the writer’s art, and an ability to respond to literature in an intellectual level as well as an emotional level. The final award of the day, The Osprey Award was presented in recognition of the student who best represents the positive qualities of character and excellence to the Kent School community. This contribution can take many forms: athletic, artistic, academic or personal. This year, The Osprey Award was presented to Molly Starkey. Student speakers were Julia Reed and Julia McClary. Both students spoke of the wonderful memories their class shares as a result of being at Kent School since Preschool.
One of the unique features of Kent School’s Class of 2019, aside from being the 50th graduating class, is that eight of the thirteen graduates are children of Kent School Alumni. Parents who are Alumni, members of the Board of Trustees, Kent School Employees or some combination of those roles were invited to the stage to present their student’s certificates of graduation. Members of the Class of 2019 will be attending the following secondary schools: The Gunston School, The STEM Academy at Kent County High School, The Hill School, Mercersburg Academy, Oldfields School, St. Andrew’s School and The Severn School.
For more information about Kent School visit www.kentschool.org. Kent School, located in historic Chestertown, MD is an independent day school serving children from Preschool through Grade 8. The School’s mission is to guide our students in realizing their potential for academic, artistic, athletic, and moral excellence. Our school’s family-oriented, supportive, student-centered environment fosters the growth of honorable, responsible citizens for our country and our diverse world.